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Finalists of the 2012 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year

The finalists of the 2012 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year and YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year awards have been announced. The vote for the overall winner now goes to the members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) in a secret ballot. The winner of each award will be revealed at two separate ceremonies during the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show in January 2013.

YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year finalists include World match-racing champion Ian Williams : During the first week of December the final regatta in the ISAF match-racing championship takes place at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, and Ian will then be competing for his fourth victory in this World Series which he currently leads with 102 points over Bjorn Hansen of Sweden with 93 points and Keith Swinton of Australia with 79 points. If he succeeds in this fourth match-racing championship he will equal the amazing match-racing record of Peter Gilmour.

Gold Paralympic medallist and ISAF 2011-12 Sailing World Cup Champion Helena Lucas: Helena, was born with no thumbs and restricted arm movement but nevertheless started sailing aged only eight and eventually excelled in racing in several of the open Olympic classes, including the very tough 470’s. Helena won her 2012 gold medal in the mixed Paralympic class after a gruelling 10 races, as the only woman competitor. Helena won the ISAF Sailing World Cup with three silvers and a bronze in the World Cup events held in Hyeres, Palma, Weymouth and Holland.

Olympic medallist for the fifth time in 2012 Ben Ainslie : During his remarkable career, Ben has now claimed four Olympic gold medals and one silver, nine European titles and ten world championships going back to 1993. Few sportsmen in any discipline have stayed at the forefront of their careers for such a sustained period. Ben also won the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth year. Ben concluded his year by being named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. Ben has also been voted YJA Yachtsman of Year on five previous occasions, either as an individual or as part of an Olympic team.

Finalists for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year include Lottie Harland, 16 from Reading: Lottie who has Asperger’s Syndrome has overcome many social difficulties to give other young sailors the benefit of her knowledge and the confidence to get out on the water.

She helps out at her club and motivates others wherever she can. Lottie recently set up a junior committee and in the summer, she helps at the club’s Sailability sessions one evening each week assisting physically and mentally disabled people to try sailing. Lottie also coaches the club’s Topper squad and has inspired many youngsters at the club and further afield, to take up the sport.

Saskia Sills, 16 from Launceston: Saskia has made a huge impact in her first season in the Youth RS:X class. After winning the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships in April, she finished third overall in the RS:X Youth European Windsurfing Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the Under 17 category.

Saskia quickly followed that up with victory at her first ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and another gold at the EUROSAF Youth Europeans. She also claimed the under 17 world title in addition to overall silver at the at the RS:X Youth Worlds in October.

Ben Jelf, 12 from Maidstone: Ben at just 12 years old, has retained his two British titles in GT15 class, making this the third consecutive year he has held both the Junior Championship and Junior Sprint Championship's.

He has also received international recognition of the highest level claiming both a UIM European Powerboat Championship Title in Estonia for the second consecutive year and securing silver against a fleet of over 20 other competitors at the UIM World GT15 Championships in Sweden.

At Coniston Records Week (5-9 November), Ben knew he had his work cut out to beat the new World Record set in Sweden in October, but on just his third run he once again achieved the World and British speed record, boosting it to 44.33mph.

Winners of both awards will be voted for by members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association. The YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year will be announced at an awards ceremony at midday on Tuesday 15th January 2013 at Trinity House, Tower Hill, London.

The YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year Award will be announced at 14:00 hrs on Saturday 12th January 2013 at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show at ExCel, at the Knowledge Box. RYA Regional Winners will also be presented with their awards at the ceremony.

RYA Regional Winners are:

Thames Valley and London: Lottie Harland*
Eastern: Peter Cullum
North East: Christina Coates
South East: Ruth Oliver
South West: Saskia Sills*
Scotland: Lorenzo Chiavarini
North West: Greg Kelly
Northern Ireland: Robbie Gilmore
East Midlands: Sarah Gowler
Southern: Jack Arnell
Yorkshire and Humberside: Hector Simpson
West Midlands: Mya Kilpatrick-Wood
Wales: Ellie Meopham

*Also finalists for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year Award.

Nominations will be elected by the YJA and winners of both awards will be announced during the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show in January 2013.

Pantaenius is one of the leading yacht insurance intermediaries in Europe with over a hundred years of experience in this specialised market.